Youth and Community Development (M.A.)

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Master of Arts

Admissions requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in youth development or a related field.
  • A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale) in the last two years of undergraduate studies. Conditional admission may be granted if a GPA in the last two years of undergraduate studies is under 3.0. Conditional admission will be converted to a regular admission if a B or better is earned in the first two graduate courses (six credit hours) taken.
  • Experience working with youth. Submit a resume that includes work, volunteer, practicum and internship experience.
  • A statement that describes how experience(s) have influenced career goals and a desire to pursue a graduate degree, and how earning a Master of Arts in Youth and Community Development will advance these career goals.
  • Recommendations from three persons able to comment on the applicant’s potential to success in the graduate program.
  • Visit the department admissions page for more information.

Accelerated graduate degree program

  • Accelerated graduate degree program (AGDP) for M.A. in Youth and Community Development
  • Qualifying WMU undergraduate students can accumulate up to 12 credit hours toward the Master of Arts in Youth and Community Development while enrolled as undergraduates the family studies major, the child and family development major, or the youth and community development major. Designated 5000- and 6000-level courses are counted in both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree.

Program overview

The M.A. in Youth and Community Development offers a path to advanced career development for youth professionals who seek or have senior leadership roles in youth-serving organizations and a bridge to doctoral studies for those wanting to conduct research in youth studies.

Why youth and community development at Western Michigan University

  • The M.A. in Youth and Community Development is a 33 credit hour program. Students work closely with graduate faculty to develop a plan of study that fits with personal career and academic goals.
  • Students who wish to enhance their practical experience in youth development may complete a practicum or internship.
  • A thesis option is available for those interested in pursuing a doctoral degree.

Who should apply

Professionals working in social services, education or youth-serving settings who are seeking to advance their careers by obtaining a master’s degree; other professionals who wish to transition to working with youth.

Career opportunities

Graduates may pursue advanced leadership positions in

  • public and private human services organizations and agencies
  • informal learning environments
  • community organizations

Helpful links

WMU Graduate College

College of Education and Human Development

Employer tuition reimbursement

If your employer has a tuition reimbursement program, find out about WMU’s deferment program for employer paid tuition.

Program curriculum

All courses are 3 credit hours unless otherwise specified.

1. Youth development: Theory and foundations (6 credit hours)

FCS 6410: Advances in Youth and Community Development

Choose One:

ED 6040: Childhood Learning and Development: Theory to Practice

ED 6035: Risk and Resilience in Adolescent Development

FCS 6510: Child Development: Theories and Practice

FCS 5250: Adolescents in Development              

2. Youth development: Practice (9 credit hours)

FCS 6420: Building Capacity and Quality in Youth and Community Development            

ED 5950: Experiential Education and Place-Based Learning

Choose One:

FCS 6550: Adult-Child Relationships

ED 6700: Authority and Autonomy in Schooling

FCS 5350: Communication Skills

3. Organizational Leadership (6 credit hours)

WFED 5150: Grant Writing 

Choose One:

OCL 6400: Foundations in Organizational Change Leadership

OCL 6410: Organizational Culture and Globalization

OCL 6430: Group Dynamics and Team Development in an Age of Globalization

OCL 6440: Large Scale Change and Organizational Design

4. Social Foundations (6 credit hours)  

ES 5850: Social Justice & Community Organizing

Choose One:

ES 6340: Culture and Politics of Education Institutions

ES 6730: Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in Education

FCS 5680: Gender, Culture & Families

ES 6420: Queer Theory

5. Core (6 credit hours)

ED 6010: Introduction to Research in Educational Settings   

or  FCS 6010: Basic Research Methods and Design

Choose One:

ED 6790: Capstone Research Project 

ED 7000: Master’s Thesis (6 credit hours)

FCS 7100: Independent Research (2-6 credit hours)  

FCS 7000: Master’s Thesis (6 credit hours)


Choose One:

ED 7120: Internship

FCS 6220: Practicum/Internship (2-6 credit hours)